A man who worked in a park is shocked to discover that a little girl had been sitting alone on a bench all night waiting for her mother and calls the police.
Albert Fairchild was the custodian of a lovely old Victorian park in the middle of the city and his time was spent making sure it was a little corner of heaven, a place where lovers met and people went to get in touch with nature or for a little peace of mind.
He loved his job. Every day he wandered through the park, raking the paths, emptying the bins, and making sure everything was perfect, and twice a week the city gardeners came around to take care of the lawns and the trees and plants.
One afternoon, Albert saw a little girl sitting quietly at one of the park’s picnic tables coloring in a picture book. She was surely no more than four or five but she was all alone! Albert looked around but he couldn’t see her parents. Something had to be wrong…
Albert approached the little girl and greeted her. “Hello there little miss, what are you doing out here all on your own? Trying to catch the fairies?”
The little girl looked up at Albert. “You’re a stranger, and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” she said.
Giving birth is a life-changing event and a huge responsibility.
“No, you are not,” Albert agreed. “But you’ll see I’m not asking you to go anywhere with me, and I’m not offering you candy. I’m just wanting to know where your mom is and why you’re alone.”
“I’m waiting for mom,” the child said. “She had a job interview across the road, and she asked me to wait here for her. Mom said not to talk to strangers and not to go anywhere. I have my juice and a snack and she will be back very soon!”
Albert frowned. It wasn’t exactly safe to leave a child in a public park, but he knew that sometimes single moms with no resources or family had to do the best they could — and it sounded as if this mom was unemployed and desperate to boot.
“What’s your name, little miss?” Albert asked.
The girl giggled. “My name is Margaret,” she said.
“That’s a HUGE name!” cried Albert. “It’s three times as long as you are!”
“My mom calls me Meg,” she confessed, laughing. “And I DON’T believe in fairies!”
Albert gasped and clutched at his heart. “I’m shocked, little miss Meg!” he cried. “I believe in fairies, in fact, I see them all the time! I have to chase them away from the fountains cause they insist on taking showers and breaking the rainbows!”
Meg was grinning. “That’s a LIE!” she giggled. “That’s BAD!”
“Well,” Albert said. “I have a lot of work to do, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you, making sure the fairies don’t pull your pigtails. If you need me, Meg, just holler and I’ll come running, OK?”
Albert walked away but he kept glancing back over his shoulder. He wished he had a little person just like Meg in his life, a little granddaughter, but he knew it was not to be.
The kindly man’s life hadn’t been easy. He had lost his job as a stockbroker back in 2008, and since then, working in the garden as a custodian was the only job he’d managed to land.
He’d worked for a famous bank that had caused a lot of people grief, and even though he had nothing to do with the crash that had bankrupted so many, that name on his CV was enough to put off any employer in the financial sector.
Back then, Albert had been a widowed single father of a fifteen-year-old daughter, Linda. He was unemployed and stripped of his medical insurance, his savings, everything except Linda’s education fund which her grandparents had set up.
Then, two years later, Linda had been diagnosed with leukemia and subjected to several treatments to save her life, which included radio and chemotherapy.
The doctors had explained to Albert and Linda that even though the treatments had sent her disease into remission and saved her life, they had also robbed her of any chance of ever becoming a mother. Albert was so grateful to have his child alive that the reproductive issues didn’t even register.
Things came to a head over ten years later when Linda met a man she fell deeply in love with and he proposed.Linda had quietly explained that she was sterile. She would never be able to give the man children, but she was more than happy to adopt. The man was shocked. He told Linda he wanted his own children, of his blood.
For a long time, Linda and the man she loved debated the issue, and finally, he broke off the engagement. He was devastated, and Linda was heartbroken.
From then on, Linda refused to have serious relationships. She dated occasionally, but early in the relationship, she explained her situation and invariably walked away.
Meanwhile, Albert encouraged his daughter to get involved in an organization that sheltered at-risk children and helped them find a family. Linda, who was a talented architect, spent her spare time working with the children, and so did Albert.
Now 29, Linda had met a nice man through the charity, a lawyer who advocated for children’s rights. He was crazy about her and she had started dating him, telling him immediately about her issue.
Roy had been unfazed. “I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you and raise children with you,” he told her. “We will adopt. Biology isn’t what makes a family.”
Albert liked Roy, and he thought that a girl like Meg was exactly the kind of child her daughter would love. He went back and checked on Meg several times. She seemed to be alright, reading her book, and coloring. Then, at around 5:00 p.m., Albert saw that Meg was gone.
He heaved a sigh of relief. Her mother had fetched her! He went home and called his daughter and told her about Meg. “Her mom left her alone in the park?” asked Linda, shocked.
“I kept an eye on her,” Albert said. “And I guess she was pretty desperate and had to get to that job interview and had no one to leave her child with.”
Linda sighed. “That’s really sad,” she said. “People have hard lives…Such a situation can’t be easy.”
But the next morning, when Albert arrived at the park, he saw Meg still sitting at the picnic table, wearing the same clothes, clutching her book. “Meg!” he cried and rushed to the child’s side. “What are you still doing here?”
Meg looked up and her little face was pale, her eyes red and swollen with tears. “My mother said for me to wait right here, so I did.”
“But yesterday I checked on you and you were gone.” Albert cried.
“I went to the little girl’s room,” Meg explained. “Mom said I could, but that I had to come right back here.”
Albert was horrified. Meg had spent the entire night huddled on the bench, waiting for a mother who never came to fetch her! He immediately called the police, then he called Linda and told her about the situation.
The police arrived and shortly afterward, so did Linda, and she brought Roy with her. Roy spoke to child services and they allowed Meg to stay with Linda while the police tried to find her mother.
At first, they thought the woman might have been in an accident, so they contacted every hospital, every clinic, every police station, and eventually the morgue, but Meg’s mom was nowhere to be found.
Finally, the police managed to track down the woman’s address, going by Meg’s description of an apartment building with a pizza place and a game arcade next door.
The landlord revealed that the woman had given notice and moved out the day she had abandoned Meg. “She told me she had a job in Reno,” the landlord told the police. “I can’t understand why she’d abandon that sweet little girl!”
Neither could Linda. As the weeks went by, she was more and more in love with the sweet little girl who didn’t believe in fairies. She said to her father bitterly, “This woman received one of God’s greatest gifts, and she threw it away.
“And I, who can never have children, would have given anything to be Meg’s mother, to love and cherish her and watch her grow into the wonderful young woman she is going to be.”
“Oh, my dear!” Albert sighed. “I can’t criticize you for wanting that. I know how wonderful it was to be your father. You’ve brought so much joy into my life, Linda. I’m sure God will give you your heart’s desire.”
Linda just shook her head, and a tear slipped down her cheek. “One of these days, Meg’s awful mom will just breeze in and demand her back,” Linda said. “And then my heart will break! I don’t want to lose her, dad!”
Albert was worried. He knew how much Linda had grown to love Meg, so he called Roy. “Listen, Roy,” he said. “If we could contact Meg’s mom, maybe she’d agree to Linda adopting her.
“She obviously wants to get on with her life. Don’t you lawyers have investigators?”
Roy told Albert that he would have one of his investigators locate Meg’s mom. A month later, Roy himself went to Reno to talk to the woman and was shocked to discover that she was really just a girl.
Meg’s mom was eighteen and she’d had her baby when she was barely fourteen. “I can’t do it no more!” she cried. “I can’t be a mom, and you can’t make me! I’m so tired all the time and I don’t have no fun!”
Roy gently suggested that Meg’s mom could put her daughter up for adoption. “There is a wonderful woman who loves Meg, and she would be a wonderful mother and take good care of her,” he said. “And I’m hoping she will let me marry her and be Meg’s dad.”
Meg’s mom agreed to the adoption, and Roy flew back from Reno triumphant, with the signed adoption papers in hand.
“Dad!” Linda shouted as soon as Albert answered his phone. “Meg’s mine, she’s my daughter! “Roy spoke to her mother and she agreed and she signed the papers and she’s mine! I’m a mother, dad! I’m a mother!”
Albert had tears in his eyes. “Oh my sweet girl!” he said. “Finally, God has rewarded you for your good heart. First, he gave you a wonderful man who really loves you. And then he gave you a beautiful daughter. I know you will be the best mother in the world!”
Six months later, Linda married Roy in a beautiful ceremony, and little miss Meg was the flower girl. Her dress was as pink as rose petals and had little wings. Meg now believes in miracles and is starting to think that maybe fairies do exist.
What can we learn from this story?
Giving birth is a life-changing event and a huge responsibility. Meg’s mom wasn’t ready to be a mother, and so she abandoned her daughter, while Linda desperately wanted to be a mother.
Family is about love, not biology. Linda and Roy loved Meg and she became their daughter. They loved her just as much as if she were their own.
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